If you are thinking about writing a children’s picture book, my advice would be to write something funny. Why? The awards are the proof.
We have been busy with the Forest of Reading program and after talking with a lot of children about the books that they thought were the best (and eventually voted for), the resounding idea is that they want to read something funny. I can’t tell you how many great stories that I read each week, either as I catalog or for my storytime, and nine times out of ten, the books that have the kids giggling are the ones that they want to take home and read again.
Canadian writer Melanie Watt (and a long-time favourite of mine), just won the Blue Spruce prize in the Forest of Reading program 2009 for her book called Chester, about a crazy cat who takes over the writing of the book by doodling his own artwork and text over the original using a red marker. And today, it was announced that Watt also recently won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award 2009 for her sequal to Chester called Chester’s Back! She also previously won for her funny book Scaredy Squirrel.
What makes funny books so important to children and why should you write something funny if you are an author? Of course, the monetary rewards are nice, but this generation of children is used to dynamic colours, instant gratification and fun. Gone are the days of the sweetly artistic bunnies and stories with a theme or moral (some of the funniest books DO have great morals. They are just hidden, somewhat.). These days, our kids need to be amused and the funny picture books are where they start learning that.
Just an observation on a Friday morning.